Former Deschutes Co. Deputy DA files sex, race discrimination claim

By TED TAYLOR
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS

A former Deschutes County Deputy District Attorney has filed a claim against the county, alleging she had to quit her job because of a “toxic sex and race-based hostile work environment.”

Jasmyn Troncoso, who was sworn into office by District Attorney John Hummel in July 2019, resigned earlier this month. 

“Ms. Troncoso was a victim of both sex and race discrimination throughout her employment with the County and on a continuing and ongoing basis,” according to the tort claim notice filed by Portland attorney Matthew Ellis.

The claim says Troncoso was the only deputy DA of color and the only Spanish-speaking attorney in the office.

It says she was accused of being anorexic, was told she was hired because Hummel found her attractive and wanted to have sex with her and she was accused, “mostly by staff, of being ‘dumb,’ ‘ditzy,’ ‘stupid,’ ‘inexperienced,’ and a ‘drama queen;’ all false stereotypes about women.”

The claim states all the issues were reported up the chain of command.

“While they appeared sympathetic to her concerns, they failed to take reasonable steps to stop the conduct thereby causing the harassment to continue to spiral,” the claim states. “These comments took place on, at least, a weekly basis from the time her employment started until the present.”

Hummel released a statement on Friday, saying he was “shocked” when the allegations were brought to his attention. He also told Central Oregon Daily News he first heard about the alleged abuse when Troncoso submitted her resignation.

“What Ms. Troncoso alleges happened to her during her employment in my office is outrageous, despicable, and has no place in our society,” he said. “The moment her attorney notified me of these allegations I set out to find out if they are true.  When the investigation is completed, if the investigator finds one or more of the allegations to be true, I will do everything in my power to right the wrong and to ensure it never happens again.”

Hummel said he has never seen the type of conduct Troncoso alleges and would be “surprised, disappointed and angry if it turns out to be true.”

“I value diversity in the workplace.  Women and people of color are encouraged to work for me. Every person in my office should have to focus on one thing when they walk through our front door: how can I make our community as safe as possible. If instead, they have to fend off hateful and hurtful interactions with colleagues, I have failed them.”

Troncoso’s claim continues to give specific, alleged examples of race-based discrimination including an incident where a woman in the office heard Troncoso speaking Spanish and said, “This is America, speak f—–g English.”

“For a Mexican-American professional, the comment “This is America. Speak f—–g English” is not a far cry from using the “N-word” to reference an African-American employee,” the claim states. “While not the same, both phrases represent the worst parts of us as a society and are weaponized language that have no place at the County.”

“This sort of conduct was part and parcel of the culture of the DA’s office which, for a Mexican American, was toxic,” the claim states.

Troncoso made news when she was hired, having overcome difficulties as a teen, and graduating from the Oregon Youth Challenge Program. 

She has agreed to sit down with Central Oregon Daily for an interview and we’ll have that for you Monday night. Hummel spoke to Central Oregon Daily News this morning and we’ll have that for you tonight at 5.

Deschutes County retained the services of an investigator to investigate the allegations.

Hummel’s statement concluded by wishing Troncoso well.

“I wish Ms. Troncoso the best in her future employment,” he said. “I hired her because I knew she would be a voice for justice – now her voice will serve another community and I’m confident they will be well-served.”

You can read Troncoso’s full claim below. Please note, it contains graphic language.

2020-5-28 Supp TCN

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